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Looking At 2 Chronicles Chapter 10 On Why Political Leaders Should Listen To Critics As Much As They Do To Hangers On

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ISAAC ASABOR*

There is no denying that 2 Chronicles, chapter 10, contains a classic example of biblical Israel’s failure of leadership, especially when read in order from 1 to 19. The scripture explanatorily teaches how King Rehoboam finds himself in need of advice on a difficult matter, and how Jeroboam and all of Israel sincerely counseled him to lighten the burden of forced labor that his father, King Solomon, had laid on them (2 Chron. 8:8).  In exchange, they promised him that “we will serve you.” (2 Chron. 10:5). 

As gathered from the scriptural passage, Rehoboam began sagaciously by taking the advice given to him by the elders of his kingdom as they advised him to lessen the burden on the people in line with their request. “If you will be kind to this people and please them, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever” (2 Chron. 10:7). 

Analysing the foregoing biblical verses from the perspective of the ongoing political dispensation in Nigeria under the leadership of various political leaders in this context, it will not be out of place to urge them to also be listening to his critics, as they appear to be listening to hangers on that might have been supporting their styles of governance; not because they love Nigeria more than their critics, but merely for the pecuniary gain they seek to get un   

Against the foregoing backdrop, it is expedient to opine that leaders usually find it difficult to listen to their critics who advise them to lessen the sufferings of the people by delivering good governance. Without a doubt, the foregoing leadership behavior is common among political leaders, and are been demonstrated by political leaders that hold sway across the three-tiers of government in Nigeria. 

In fact, for leaders that perceive every critic to be an enemy, it is pragmatic they are enlightened in this context that criticism is a natural part of leadership. The reason for the foregoing view cannot be farfetched as leadership is about always doing what is in the best interest of the people. Without resorting to campaign of calumny, many political leaders in this part of the world do not really know how to lead; they waste time trying to satisfy the agendas of political hangers on who usually surround them, and would not want to tell them the real situation of things within their political constituencies, rather than focusing on the betterment and wellbeing of the constituencies and people they serve, and who invariably voted them to various positions of power. 

Going back to the scripture at this juncture, it is germane to say that Rehoboam, speciously, does not like the answer given to him by the elders (who were ostensibly the elder statesmen in that era). The reason for his behaviour is not farfetched, as scripture indicates that he was willing to listen to everyone but God! 

Again, he had neither time nor desire to consult and follow God’s directions. He was wholly devoted to self and refused to consider anything else! How tragic that many today seek validation and support for beliefs and practices from everyone except God! 

Against the backdrop of the answer which he got from the elders, and which he deemed to be unsatisfactory,   he asked his younger friends’ opinion. They advised him to lord it over the people and boast, “My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins. Now, whereas my father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions” (2 Chron. 10:10-11). Rehoboam decides to heed his younger friends’ advice, seemingly because it strokes his ego. He replies to Jeroboam and the people as his young friends suggest, then appoints a new taskmaster over forced labor (2 Chron. 10:18). The people respond by killing the new taskmaster and rebelling against Rehoboam, who never succeeds in quelling the rebellion (2 Chron. 10:19). If I may ask, has any of the hangers on around Mr. President told him to inflict more pains on Nigerians than former President Muhammadu Buhari did?

Given the foregoing, it is crystal clear that his friends, just like modern day political hangers on did not give Rehoboam the advice that will make him deliver good governance. At this juncture, and for the sake of clarity, it is expedient to say that a hanger on is a person who associates with another person or a group in a sycophantic manner or for the purpose of gaining some personal advantage.

You may have asked, “Why is it that hangers on do not tell political leaders the true situation of things in their constituencies?” The answers to the foregoing question cannot be farfetched as hangers on always erroneously think that their political paymasters already know the situation of things, or assume that they may not care; even if they are told, even as they may not want to look like a moaner. 

In a similar vein, as much as not a few political hangers on may not want their paymasters to look bad over situation of things, they also need to protect them and give them plausible deniability, particularly as their support lies in what they stand to gain; deservedly or undeservedly,  from the position been occupied by their paymaster. 

In fact, it is not an exaggeration to say that difficult decisions are part of leadership today too, whether we are leading a whole kingdom or simply ourselves. Where do you go for advice, and how do you make good use of advice? 

To answer the foregoing question, it is expedient to note in this context that Rehoboam started by requesting for counsel from people he knows to be spiritually matured, just the way modern day leaders are supposed to be requesting for counsel from some elders statesmen in the country who are unarguably seen to be patriotic. Indeed, today’s leaders should avoid viewing critics as enemies. The reason for the foregoing cannot be farfetched as critics give better and well informed feedback for good governance than hangers on who are greedily after what is in the government for them. 

As deduced from the scripture that inspired this writer to express this opinion, it is germane to say that the elders Rehoboam consulted had over many years in the course of serving King Solomon demonstrated spiritual maturity and wisdom. One sign of this is their responsiveness to new facts and situations. Without any iota of exaggeration, their commitment to the betterment of the kingdom clearly demonstrates how critics in modern day politics offer advice to people in power. Not all critics are bad. Some are sincere and patriotic. Not all of them are politicians, just like this writer, as they sincerely want Nigeria to be better. No strings attached!

In a similar vein, it is germane to also note that the elders referred to in this context had been appointed by Solomon, and that they listened to Jeroboam with an open mind, resulting in their advice to overturn Solomon’s policies. In contrast, Rehoboam’s younger friends, who collectively come across as hangers on in modern day government, seem to have only one claim on Rehoboam’s attention, they are his pals, his “paddy-paddy”.  They are affiliated to the same party, the same religion and the same tribe. And those that do not share the foregoing seeming primordial credentials with the leader might had worked with him years back when he was also a leader in a different political constituency, perhaps of a smaller size. So, it is easy for the leader to ask for advice from the people who already think like he does. But does the leader have access to people who want him to succeed even if they are his critics, and he sees them as his enemies as he was mischievously told by his hanger on? 

Given the foregoing situation, it is expedient to ask at this juncture, “Can our leaders listen to those they rightly or erroneously perceive to be their critics, and listen to their messages, and not minding who they are as messengers?” “Do our leaders have the capacity to know who is not afraid to tell them something they would rather not hear, and which would make them more successful as leaders?”

In fact, it is advisable to urge Mr. President in this context that whenever he is faced with tough decisions that seeking counsel through wide consultation as Rehoboam did is a great first step. The next step is discerning which advice applies to the situation at hand, particularly as been offered by those that are apolitical and without pecuniary interest. 

As gathered from the scripture, it is wise for leaders to carefully sort through advices, aligning them to the peoples’ need and asking whether some of such advices would promote the greater good of the constituencies they represent, and to a larger extent Nigeria. In Rehoboam’s situation, the good advice would have required him to exercise patience, kindness, generosity, gentleness, and self-control. These are five of the nine “fruits of the Spirit” listed in Galatians 5:22. These are not merely virtues one may obtain by practice and hard work, but gifts of God’s spirit (Gal. 5:25). Had Rehoboam been willing to receive God’s spirit, this good advice would have led to peace for the whole nation (2 Chronicles 10:7). In contrast the bad advice tempted Rehoboam to give into his own envy, haughtiness, boastfulness and ruthlessness, and to gratify his own ego. A

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OPINION

To Protect Everyone’s Health, Protect Everyone’s Rights

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By Leopold Zekeng*

The enactment of Nigeria’s HIV/AIDS Anti-Discrimination Act – a national law hinged on the protection of the rights of people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS from discrimination based on their HIV status, is indeed progressive. However, to date, only about 18 states in Nigeria have domesticated the Act.
Evidence from the Nigeria PLHIV Stigma Index Survey revealed that 24.5% of adults aged 35-44 and 21.7% of young adults aged 18-24 have experienced stigma and discrimination. In some instances, key populations in Nigeria have experienced discrimination, violent law enforcement practices, arrests and other forms of human rights violations. Violence and discrimination against women and girls also remain pervasive. These violations often shove persons living with HIV and key populations to the margins of society, denying them access to life-saving health and social services, including HIV services.
Globally, 38 countries have pledged to end HIV-related stigma and discrimination through the Global Partnership for Action to Eliminate all Forms of HIV-Related Stigma and Discrimination (Global Partnership). These are hard-fought gains. Nonetheless, Nigeria is yet to formally join the Global Partnership.
However, the unwavering commitments and investments by stakeholders including the Nigerian government, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), UNAIDS, Global Fund, United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and other partners, have been instrumental in catalyzing progress towards ending stigma and discrimination in Nigeria. Communities of persons living with HIV have also been at the frontline of combatting stigma and discrimination. Recently, the Community of Practice to address HIV-related stigma and discrimination in Nigeria was launched by the Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN), Association of Women Living with HIV in Nigeria (ASWHAN) & Association of Young People living with HIV in Nigeria (APYIN). The platform seeks to facilitate capacity strengthening, exchange of best practices and promote synergy amongst stakeholders in addressing stigma and discrimination in health care, education, workplace, justice systems, communities, emergency and humanitarian settings.
When marginalized communities are criminalized or stigmatized, their vulnerability to HIV infection increases, and their access to HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support services is obstructed. Countries that are beating the AIDS epidemic are doing so by repealing laws and policies that discriminate, by expanding human rights for all and by allowing marginalized communities to lead the response.
Public health is undermined when laws, policies, practices or norms enshrine punishment, discrimination or stigma for people because they are women, key populations, or persons living with HIV. Discrimination obstructs HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care, and holds back progress towards the end of AIDS.
We have hope, however, from communities on the frontlines. As Dr. Martin Luther King noted, “Social progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of people.” It is the communities most affected by discrimination that are leading the pushback against the erosion of their right to health, against the right to life. They are uniting their efforts to protect and advance human rights. They need, and deserve, all our support. The rights path strengthens entire societies, making them better equipped to deal with the challenges we face today and those that are emerging.
The right to non-discrimination as guaranteed under Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant human rights treaties and standards, is the cornerstone of international human rights law. Having ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and other relevant treaties, the Nigerian government has an obligation to ensure that national laws and policies do not discriminate against people and that all persons including persons living with HIV are protected against such discrimination by third parties.
Furthermore, the Global Aids Strategy requires that all countries including Nigeria create an enabling legal environment by removing punitive laws, introducing and enforcing protective legislations and policies, and eradicating the abuse of criminal and general laws to target people living with HIV and key populations.
Discrimination against anyone is harmful to the health of everyone. For Nigeria to deliver on the promise to end AIDS by 2030, action is urgently needed to advance the protection of the human rights of everyone, everywhere. The Zero Discrimination Day, celebrated around the world every 1 March, presents an opportunity for Nigeria to strengthen its commitment through ensuring the domestication and effective implementation of the HIV/AIDS Anti-Discrimination Act in all states across Nigeria, formally joining the Global Partnership, committing to take actions on HIV-related stigma and discrimination across all six settings; and letting communities lead in addressing stigma and discrimination.

*Dr. Zekeng, UNAIDS Nigeria Country Director, writes from Abuja.

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OPINION

The  Era Of Complacency Has Come To An End

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By Mondy Gold*

We are compelled to write this letter out of deep concern and urgency. Our beloved country is at a crossroads, facing significant challenges that threaten our very survival. Each day brings new challenges that threaten to erode the fabric of our society. At this critical juncture, we must not avoid confronting the harsh realities that await us. Instead, we must summon the courage to face these challenges head on, demanding nothing less than tangible and meaningful change from those who lead us. Our future is dependent on the courage of our actions and the firmness of our resolve.

1. Address the main issues: corruption, exchange rate, and poor leadership. Given our country’s dire economic situation, the current rate of 1470 NGN is simply unattainable. The underlying causes of this economic crisis, namely rampant corruption and ineffective governance, have yet to be adequately addressed.

2. Many Nigerians and friends believe Mr. Bola Tinubu is incompetent and incapable. With an inflation rate of around 44% and reports indicating that a staggering 65% of Nigerians have encountered corruption in dealings with public officials, it is clear that the rot runs deep within our institutions, owing directly to ineffective leadership.

3. Our nation urgently requires revolutionary actions and transformational shifts. The time for waiting has ended.

4. Corruption is used by the ruling elite to undermine law enforcement and economic development. It impedes the protection of fundamental environmental, economic, human, and civil liberties, perpetuating poverty, social unrest, insecurity, and political upheaval. Despite the introduction of numerous anti-corruption measures at both federal and state levels, the malignant growth of corruption remains unrestrained.

5. Regrettably, the current administration lacks the capability and resolve to effectively confront this persistent and crippling issue, as they are complicit in its propagation. This entrenched corruption has hindered our strides towards enhancing agricultural productivity, establishing a competitive manufacturing sector, and tapping into Nigeria’s technological and innovative capabilities.

6. We are convinced that Mr. Tinubu has elevated corruption to a formidable level and is using it as a weapon on both the national and global fronts, on a scale unprecedented in previous administrations. A revolutionary shift in governance, especially in financial management, is imperative. We must insist on accountability and transparency from these corrupt leaders, and hold them accountable for their deeds. We cannot endure a system where the elite enrich themselves while the masses suffer. Under no circumstances should we permit Mr. Tinubu or any other figure to institutionalize corruption as a national strategy.

7. While the recent streamlining of ministries and agencies may appear to be a positive step, it is merely a tactical maneuver to sidestep the undeniable necessity for comprehensive restructuring. What we require is decisive and bold action, not superficial measures aimed at pacifying the public while preserving the status quo. The Nigerian Diaspora, endowed with resources and expertise, adamantly refuse to be purposefully excluded from the nation’s developmental endeavors.  Therefore, any successful reorganization of ministries must include the establishment of a dedicated Ministry of the Nigerian Diaspora.

8. We must express our profound disappointment in Mr. Bola Tinubu, whom many had hoped would be a champion for change. Instead, his actions have shown him to be nothing more than a coward, unwilling to confront the deep-seated corruption that plagues our nation.

9. It is time to dismantle the legislative system as it currently exists. We do not need the bloated bureaucracy of hundreds of federal legislators, who brazenly and obscenely allocate billions to themselves, while honest and hardworking taxpayers continue to struggle. Instead, we should have no more than 37 part-time representatives tasked with the formulation of laws for Nigeria.

10. We demand an end to all foreign trips for appointed and elected officials, as well as their family members, until the exchange rate is stabilized at 1 USD to 100 NGN. Our public officials should not be gallivanting around the globe while our economy suffers. We have ambassadors in all countries of the world who are capable of dealing with our needs internationally.

11. We demand an immediate cessation of all international meetings, including those held at the United Nations, until further notice or until our economy experiences substantial improvement. This directive applies to all government officials, including Mr. President of Nigeria. As earlier stated, our ambassadors are eminently qualified to represent us at the international stage until we have achieved a guaranteed 24-hour electricity supply, implemented a ban on the importation of generators, and ensured the full reactivation of all refineries and seaports. It is imperative that we prioritize addressing these fundamental issues before engaging in any further international commitments.

12. We must strive for greater diversity in political appointments, welcoming more women and members of the Nigerian Diaspora into positions of power. These individuals can disrupt the corrupt networks that manipulate our systems and structures, bringing fresh perspectives and innovative solutions to the table.

13. But perhaps most importantly, we need a revolutionary government led by someone with the courage and capacity to arrest, prosecute, and jail all those who have stolen from Nigeria since 1999. We must dismantle the networks of corruption that have crippled our country for far too long.

14. We know the Rowlings of Nigeria and the Tokyos of Nigeria who can lead us out of this darkness, but they need your support and leadership. There can be no development without the destruction of corruption. We must win the war on this terroristic corruption that has held us back for far too long.

Fellow Nigerians, the time for complacency is over. We must rise up and demand the change we deserve. Our future depends on it. The time for action is now. Our people are suffering, and they are looking to the Nigerian Diaspora for leadership. Will you rise to the occasion and be the agent of change that Nigeria so desperately needs?

Yours in solidarity!
*Prof.(Amb.) Mondy Gold is the Founder of the Global Nigerian Diaspora Forum and the Coordinator, African Diaspora for Good Governance in the United States of America

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OPINION

The Day Of Glory And Falsehood On Aba Power Project

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By Sam Amadi*

Congratulations to Professor Barth Nnaji and his crew for the successful completion of Aba Power project after many years of setbacks. This is a day of jubilation for Aba residents and people of the five southeast states. Governor Alex Otti and his officials deserve praise for their contribution to the completion of the Aba Power project. Aba is the heartland of Igbo industrialization. The prospect of 24 hours power every day in Aba portends good fortunes for the Southeast region. This is evidently a landmark event that elicits joy across the country.

But, it is sad that some want to turn a day of glory to a day of falsehood. Some with other agenda against others would not allow Barth Nnaji, his team, Governor Otti and the people of Aba to rejoice on this important milestone. There was no need to use the happy occasion of the commission of the Aba Power and Geometry to peddle blatant falsehood about the project and the roles certain persons may have played.

Many people in Nigeria and outside the country has drawn my attention to an article going viral on social media where my person and character was scandalized in regard to events surrounding Aba Power project. I am sad at false statements published by the BusinessDay newspaper on Tuesday, February 27, 2024. The article written by a certain Lolade Akinmurele and titled “The dark side of the Aba power project” peddles falsehood about my person and my role as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).

The article chronicles the history of the project and focuses on those the author believes frustrated it. The article narrates how then Vice President, Namadi Sambo, Emeka Offor, DG, BPE, Benjamin Dikki, Mohammed Bello Adoke, the Attorney General of the Federation, and Anyim Pius Anyim allegedly frustrated Bart Nnaji and Aba Power. I am not bothered with the tendentious narration of events. I am angry at the attempt of the author to rope me into the alleged conspiracy. He wrote “Offor, who was blocking the project, has Ayim Pius Anyim, secretary to the government, in his pocket, while Sam Amadi, the Chairman of and CEO of NERC, was beholding to Anyim”.

Interestingly, the author does not mention any action that I or NERC took or decision that we made that affected Bart Nnaji adversely and benefited Emeka Offor. To show that the inclusion of my name in an alleged conspiracy was a deliberate plot to tarnish my name, in the same article, he mentioned the positive action NERC under my leadership as Chairman and CEO took which was sympathetic to Bart Nnaji. For example, he states as follow: “A report by NERC, after a visit to the Geometry Power infrastructure in Aba, submitted a report that ‘it will be a disservice to the country in general and the company (GPAL and APL) in particular, after investing such a huge amount of money in power infrastructure, to be denied the term of the tripartite agreement. A disregard of the agreement will cast a doubt on the federal government privatization process and send a wrong signal to other prospective investors in the private sector”. How the head of an agency that wrote such a report be accused without any other contrary fact of conniving against the Aba Power project? Of course, the phrase “beholding to Anyim’ in that contest was added to tarnish my reputation. The manner my name was obliquely mentioned as a stooge of Pius Ayim is an effort to paint me as someone who is not as honest as he professes. It is a deliberate effort to stain my integrity and public service records.

I have always cherished my honest public service record in Nigeria. I have challenged anyone who has any evidence of financial or other improprieties against me during my five years stewardship in NERC to bring it forward. In fact, I have on numerous occasions asked to be thoroughly probed for any financial other improprieties. Since over 8 years I left office, no one has issued me a query for any wrongdoing. I am very proud of my character and reputation, and I will defend it with every ounce of energy and pint of blood. As someone who has built and maintained a character and reputation for truthfulness, honesty and integrity, and who cherishes greatly my record of unstained public service, I bear a responsibility to correct this falsehood and present the truth facts of my role in the Aba Power project saga.

It is important to note that even by the account of the author, neither NERC nor I played key role in the contract between Bart Nnaji and the federal government and the sale of Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC). As a regulator, we were very clear that our role is regulatory and not transactional.
In the foregoing I make the following statements of facts.
1. The contract between Prof Barth Nnaji and the federal government over the Aba Power project was entered in 2005, five years before I became Chairman of NERC. The contract was a leasehold over some part of the Aba distribution area. The contract requires the federal government to allow Bart Nnaji to operate the two business units in Ariara and Osisioma in Aba, described as the ‘ring-fenced area’. Bart Nnaji also has a power plant to supply power to the ring-fenced area. The contract anticipates privatization and gives Aba Power the right of first refusal over the ring-fenced area whenever the federal government intends to sell the Enugu Distribution Company.
2. Prof Barth Nnaji was the Minister of Power from 2011 to 2013 when the process for privatization was completed. He was only removed just before the winners of the bid were announced. Throughout the relevant period of the privatization, Professor Barth Nnaji was Minister of Power and had de facto control of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) that executed the privatization process. He chaired the Presidential Task Force on Power and was key figure in the National Council on Privatization that made key decisions about privatization. The Director General of BPE, Bola Onaguruwa worked closely with him and generally under his control as Minister of Power.
3. I was appointed chairman of NERC in December 2010 after the federal government through the Ministry of Power and the BPE had rolled out the Presidential Action Plan for Power whose highpoint was privatization of the PHCN successor companies. NERC’s responsibility was to provide regulations to support the privatization. The most important components of regulatory support are the evaluation of the assets of the various companies to be privatized and the preparation of tariffs. The Minister of Power and the DG of BPE asked NERC to evaluate the assets of the 11 distribution companies (DISCOs), including the Enugu Disco. There was no request to separate the ring-fenced areas from Enugu Disco for separate evaluation. The reason being that the Ministry of Power and BPE intended to privatize the entire Enugu distribution area to whoever was the preferred bidder.
4. To the best of my knowledge, Prof Bart Nnaji as part of his business plan, intended to buy the Enugu Disco. There is nothing wrong about that. He is an entrepreneur whose entry into power sector was first as a private power producer in a deal to supply power to Abuja metropolis. Perhaps, based on the confidence that he would win the bid he neglected or forgot to separate the Aba Ring-Fenced area from the rest of Enugu Disco before he authorized the privatization of the entire Enugu Disco, including the Aba ring-fenced area. Later, when I confronted both DG BPE and Prof Bart Nnaji on why he failed to separate the Aba ‘ring-fenced’ area from Enugu Disco before authorizing privatization, they argued something to the effect that the Vice President opposed them. I have no proof of this fact.
5. Professor Barth Nnaji organized a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to bid for Enugu Disco, including the Aba ring-fenced area. He set up a special committee of BPE and Ministry of Power officials to evaluate the bids for the discos. After close of bid, his SPV, was adjudged the winner of the ENTIRE Enugu disco, including the Aba ring-fenced area.
6. At no time did I participate in evaluating or choosing the winner of the bid. A few NERC staff who participated in the evaluation process were mere observers because NERC as a regulator has no responsibility to sell private public enterprises.
7. After the evaluation and selection of Barth Nnaji’s firm as the preferred bidder, Chief Emeka Offor’s consortium petitioned on the ground of error. The Presidency empaneled a special committee chaired by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Power. The Chairman of NERC, the DG of BPE and BPE consultants were member with a mandate to review the process. After reviewing the process, the committee agreed that Chief Emeka Offor’s consortium ought to win the bid after correcting the error. The NCP approved Chief Emeka Offor’s consortium as the winner of the bid and the preferred bidder.
8. After the declaration of Chief Emeka Offor’s consortium as the winner, Bola Onagoruwa, the DG of BPE, wrote to NERC to cut off Aba ring-fenced area from Enugu disco area and reevaluate it for Barth Nnaji to purchase. NERC rejected that request because it would violate regulatory due process. You cannot conclude a sale of a territory and after the buyer has fulfilled terms and conditions you alter the sale. While he was the Minister of Power and supervised the privatization, Professor Bart Nnaji had opportunity to demand the performance of the contract he had with federal government to be given the right of first rejection to purchase the Aba ring-fenced area before privatization. He did not do so, since he had reasonable expectations that he would purchase the entire Enugu disco. But unfortunately, he lost to Emeka Offor. NERC took the view that it would be a corrupt and unlawful action to alter the completed transaction to compensate Bart Nnaji in the circumstances in which he participated and lost out in the wholesome sale of Enugu disco.
9. As a responsible regulator, NERC sent a team of its technical staff to evaluate the work done by Geometry and Aba Power on the ground. The team reported highly of the efforts of Prof Bart Nnaji and his team. Based on this report, I wrote to the CEO of Enugu Distribution Company to implement the contract between the federal government and Bart Nnaji by allowing Aba Power ‘operationalize’ the contract to exercise authority over the Aba ring-fenced area as a lessee.
10. Bart Nnaji proceeded to court against the federal government for violating the lease agreement. Later Emeka Offor joined the suit. NERC was not part of the suit and had nothing to do with the contest between both parties.
11. There were many interventions at the presidency to settle the matter. At one of those meeting, President Jonathan asked me as Chairman of NERC to resolve it because I would follow due process. At NERC as a commission resolved to undertake a public hearing on the matter to ensure transparency and give all parties, including customers of the ring-fenced area to express their opinions. NERC advertised a date for a public hearing to conduct due process review of the dispute between Bart Nnaji’s company and Emeka Offor’s EEDC. Before the hearing, we got a letter from the Attorney General of the Federation asking us to hands-off as the matter was before the court.
12. The next time we had something to do with the matter was at the instance of the Buhari presidency. NERC had a regulatory meeting and issued an expert opinion that restates that Enugu disco should allow Aba Power to ‘operationalize’ the lease but as a lessee of Enugu disco and EEDC as lessor. This means that Aba Power will pay Enugu disco regulated fee for use of its network. Barth Nnaji rejected this view because he claimed he ought to be given full control of ring-fenced area by the federal government.
13. The last official engagement with the matter before I left office in December 2015 was a special meeting called by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo. Chief Olanipekun SAN led Bart Nnaji and Chief Ademola SAN led a director of Enugu disco for Emeka Offor for the meeting. The Vice President endorsed the NERC recommended option as the fair and legal approach to solve the problem.
14. It is important to note that throughout this period I never had any meeting with either Emeka Offor or Pius Anyim or any of Emeka’s Offor’s proxy in any form on the matter in dispute. There has been no moment in my multiple interactions with Anyim Pius Anyim as Secretary to Government of the Federation that he ever sought my opinion or offer any opinion to me about the dispute over Aba Power. Chief Emeka Offor never met me privately in my office or anywhere to discuss the matter with me.
15. As a matter of fact, it was Bart Nnaji who had made efforts to discuss the matter privately with me. First, he came to my office to discuss the matter with the highly revered Paschal Dozie. I told Mr. Dozie the truth as I always do that the only solution short of a judicial decision to the benefit of Bart Nnaji is to operationalize the lease so that Aba Power pays lease to Enugu disco and distribute power in the ring-fenced area. Bart Nnaji also came to my house with another of his friend and we had lunch, and I restated my position. So, if there is anyone who has had personal conversation with me over the Aba Power project it is neither Pius Anyim Pius nor Emeka Offor. It is actually Professor Bart Nnaji.

These are facts which can be crosschecked with records with NERC. I challenge anyone who doubts this narration of facts to trigger a Freedom of Information request and scrutinize the records of proceedings of NERC regulatory and management meetings. As I always state in matter of integrity and due process, if there is any evidence that I ever had a meeting with anyone or anyway took any action contrary to what I stated here I will voluntarily go to prison for any such offence.

Let me make it clear. One of the accusations against me is that I was fiercely independent as a regulator and did not listen to anyone outside NERC in regulatory decisions. Everyone in the power sector knows that I would rather resign than submit to the dictation of anyone outside NERC. I have said it before that I am personally responsible for any decision I made as NERC Chairman. I had in the past absolved President Jonathan or any other person from any liability for decisions made by NERC. No one pressured or forced me to take any action that is wrong or self-serving. I am proud that nothing has been found against me more than 8 years since I left office as the Chairman of NERC. Since then, I have not done any work for any company in the electricity sector. I removed myself from any benefit from the sector far beyond the 2 years that the Act requires me to recuse myself. I have not received one kobo from any company in the Nigerian electricity industry. I challenge anyone to contradict me on this claim.

The article tried to stain my reputation by suggesting that I worked on behalf of Anyim and Emeka Offor to delay or deny the completion of Aba Power project. That is an absolute falsehood as the facts above attest. It is an insult to suggest I was beholding to Anyim Pius Anyim in doing my work on Chairman of NERC. As records show, in all circumstances, I acted on my understanding of what the law and facts require of me as a regulator. It is ironic that it was the same Anyim Pius Anyim who once told me that President Jonathn once said ‘Please let everyone allow Sam do his work. For once, let us have a man of courage and integrity who would not succumb to anyone”. I am proud that I maintained that integrity throughout my tenure at NERC. I am sure Prof Bart Nnaji knows me so well. He is not and cannot be part of this blatant lie.

Whereas I need to correct the false statement against me, it should not obscure the great achievement of the moment. The commissioning of the Aba Power project is a testimony to the commitment and resilience of Prof Bart Nnaji. It is a good fortune for Governor Alex Otti and the people of Abia as they strive to make Aba the industrial heartland of Nigeria as it deserves to be. Nigeria now has an example of how to do it better and faster from the Aba Power project.

Let us embrace the learning without the falsehood. As for BusinessDay and its writer, they will have their day in court for libel.

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